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3.73  ·  Rating details ·  1,335 ratings  ·  298 reviews
Robert Jackson Bennett's Vigilance is a dark science fiction action parable from an America that has permanently surrendered to gun violence.

The United States. 2030. John McDean executive produces "Vigilance," a reality game show designed to make sure American citizens stay alert to foreign and domestic threats. Shooters are introduced into a "game environment," and the su
Paperback, 191 pages
Published January 29th 2019 by
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Average rating 3.73  · 
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 ·  1,335 ratings  ·  298 reviews

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Oct 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
ARC provided by the publisher——in exchange for an honest review.

A powerful and terrifyingly necessary novella; I sincerely hope that it’s not prophetic.

Gun violence and mass shooting, we’ve all heard about it; it has happened way too many times for the past couple of years. I’m not American, I never lose someone close to me to gun violence or mass shooting. Even then, I found that this book was dark, terrifying, and powerful because looking at the state of the world now, I can’t dispute t
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
Okay, so I don't know how to rate this story. First I thought I'd go for 3 miserable little stars. Then I said to my little self, "how can you bloody shrimping do this to Robert Jackson Bennett of The Lusciously Divine Cities?! This cannot be! This will not do!" And decided to go for 3.5 stars instead. (Go me and stuff.) But then I talked to Kateblue, who said she both loved and hated the book, and rated it 4 stars despite “really not liking it.” And that’s when I had an a-ha moment (yes, it hur ...more
OMG what a glorious, gloriously messed-up SF. :)

Bennett pulls off a great hat trick that follows some of the greatest SF stories ever written. He drills down on a single issue: Guns.

So... done, and perhaps overdone for years, right? Yes, of course! Because the problem is WORSE now than ever! Look at the Purge and dozens of others to show us where we're headed. It's the drill-down. Let's see our possible futures and see what kind of consequences are in store for us.

This one goes delightfully blo
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
3.5 Stars

Read for SpecFic Buddy Reads- Febrauary BR.

My heart is still pounding!

Why can’t we find a way to get everyone to be vigilant, and get great ratings?
And thus, the game was born.

I was confused in the first 3 chapters as I tried to understand what Vigilance was and what was happening and where this was headed; then I was too excited when the Vigilance was about to start but then for some reason, I was so mad when it started!

“Hello, boys,” he says jovially. “Who’s ready to kill some motherf
Feb 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-read, novella
Chilling and scary, but also sad. Robert Jackson Bennett's near future setting seems frighteningly prescient. Anyone turning on the news today can see how the cultural of fear is decimating America, and the loss of all that potential because of it is simply painful to watch.

The heart of the matter was that, from the beginning, America had always been a nation of fear. Fear of the monarchy. Fear of the elites. Fear of losing your property, to the government or invasion. A fear that, though you ha
So. I love Robert Jackson Bennett. His Divine Cities trilogy is probably my favorite fantasy series of all time; they are so good that I went and bought all of his other books as soon as I was done with those. And they are really amazing. But this novella just freaked the fuck out of me. In a good way? I read the synopsis, and I thought, “Jeez, Mr. Bennett, couldn’t you have stuck to fiction?”. He's clearly very angry at American gun culture, the media that takes fear-mongering to another level, ...more
Michael Hicks
Feb 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My review of Vigilance can be found at High Fever Books.

In the near future, America’s favorite pastime — mass shootings — has become a ratings juggernaut. Under the supervision of executive producer John McDean, ONT (Our Nation’s Truth) irregularly broadcasts Vigilance, a reality TV game show that turns local malls, schools, train stations, restaurants, and other randomly chosen public arenas into grotesque scenes of mass gun violence for the entertainment of its home viewers.

although America do
kartik narayanan
Vigilance tries to be a moralistic science fiction story in the vein of movies like The Purge and The Running Man, but ultimately does not have much going for it.

First off, let me state that I am liberal and, like anyone with a working brain, I think Trump is one of the worst things that could be inflicted on the world. Why is this important? Because Vigilance takes all the fears that liberals have, turns the dial to 11, fills the story with a number of Trumpisms and tries to the do same thing a
An extrapolation of US gun culture, big data and reactionary societal trends produces this disturbing book that reads like a combination of the Truman Show, the Running Man and modern-day mass shootings.

The plot here is very simple and best appreciated without spoilers as the ongoing horror of what Vigilance actually is unfolds to the reader. How the reader is going to take it depends largely on how you feel about things like "Thoughts and prayers", the NRA and the gun lobby wanting to arm every
Feb 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If there's one thing John McDean loves more than anything else in the world, it's telling people to be vigilant.

Vigilance is not a very pleasant novel - but then, this never promised to be a look into America's optimistic future. What it is though, is timely, terrifying, and completely on the nose in it's observations.

Usually I won't give a high rating to something so bleak. But just occasionally, bleakness is trumped by a sense of importance, and this book touches on almost every point currentl
Feb 09, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
John McDean runs a US TV network. This network shows a program called "Vigilance" which is a reality show where a location is chosen and some people who signed up and happen to be in the area subsequently get to shoot everyone in sight. The reason? To check if the people in the area (could be a shopping mall or a train station or whatever) fight back, if they came prepared and thus potentially survive.
It is 2030 and America has succumbed to fearmongering. Gun sales are off the charts. McDean mak
Caidyn (he/him/his)
This review can also be found on my blog!

I received this ARC from Tor in exchange for an honest review!


CW: sexism, mass violence, mass shootings, and graphic descriptions

My updates for this book looked a little like this:

“Well, this is terrifying.”
“Yep, this is terrifying.”
“That. Was. Fucked.”

The last one was my ending thoughts on the book, so that says a lot, right? This book was a force of violence. It shocked me and had my heart pounding. I mean, I read most of it in one of my classes (gra
Feb 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Whoa. Super depressing and a plausible outcome when the nastiness, cynicism and violence in the US of today is extrapolated forward to a really dark future where mass shootings, marketing, AI and reality tv come together to sell more products and entertain.
Oleksandr Zholud
This is a near future SF novella, which satirizes defenders of the second amendment in the USA (“the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”). While the story has interesting ideas, for me, a non-US citizen it was a thinly veiled partisan politics; I agree that the US needs much stricter gun controls but here the situation reminds me of a straw man beating.

The setting assumes that somewhere in the 2020s AI inserted ads in CCTV feed of actual mass shooting and it hasn’
Holly (The GrimDragon)
"The heart of the matter was that, from the beginning, America had always been a nation of fear.."

As I sit here writing this review, the narrative of the world continues to appear bleak. A cavalcade of grim events litter our news headlines steadily. MAGA-hat-wearing teenage boys protesting a woman's right to choose at the March for Life rally, then infringing upon the personal space of a 64 year old Native American vet, taunting him while he beat on his drum as part of the Ingenious Peoples Marc
 Charlie - A Reading Machine
Feb 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
How do you review a book that is well written and raises important question but is just horrible to read?

Vigliance is an examination of the violent and moronic obsession that many Americans have with guns. It’s a tv game show that places armed psychos within an unsuspecting civilian rich environment and then calls those civilians cowards for running away, unprepared for dying in front of the loved ones and pathetic because they have a gun but haven’t spent quite enough hours firing at stationary
Feb 15, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 3-star, sci-fi
The author successfully shows the disturbing picture of America in (future) 2030. Where lack of gun control has lead to glorifying "gun culture".
The public fear because of which is then misused by big cooperation for revenue. Capitalising on societies paranoia and manipulating it to their advantage is basically whats explored in a reality game show "Vigilance" that encourages mass shooting.

More than anyone alive, John McDean knows America isn’t a place you live in—not anymore. It’s a place
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Dark science-fiction by Robert Jackson Bennett? Yes, please.

In a near-future (2030) America, Vigilance is a popular TV reality show in which shooters kill civilians in a variety of places (malls, restaurants etc). John McDean, the show’s cynical executive producer manipulates americans’ fears, and explores culture of fear and insecurity to increase ratings and advertising revenue. 

It’s hard to like any of the characters portrayed by Bennett. They’re not evil. They just don’t give a fuck anymore.
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
Well, that was depressing. And scarily possible.
Dec 28, 2018 rated it did not like it
It's obviously written by a hapless urbanite who didn't grow up with firearms and doesn't have a clue why people own them.

Some of the pontifications therein are just incandescently dumb... To wit(less):
“A firearm should provoke analysis and thought, not action. Or that’s how it should be, at least."

What? Huh? This guy thinks we should sit around staring at firearms and analyzing and thinking about them? (well, okay, maybe if it was a malfunctioning machinegun I might have to do that... Unwilling
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Vigilance is a terrifying novella of a not so distant future United States of America so wrapped up in guns and violence that they’ve dissociated from the world stage and created a stage of their own chockfull of gratuitous gun violence.

Vigilance follows John McDean as he orchestrates the next Vigilance, a reality game show where shooters are introduced into a real life setting and the survivors win cash prizes. Everything about the Vigilance is controlled, monitored, and analyzed for data and
Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)
3.5 Stars
This was a near future dystopian novella that read like an episode of Black Mirror. While I share the author's feelings about gun control in America, I wished the messaging had been more subtle because it felt too heavy handed for my tastes. Yet I would still recommend this novella. The imagined future felt terrifyingly possible and the ending was quite solid.
Xan Shadowflutter
Nov 24, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
This was horrible. I abandoned halfway through.

There's a chance this is angry parody, some sort crude satire on the current state of affairs in the U.S., but I doubt it. However, if by chance I should be wrong, then to accuse it of being inartfully done is to understate the magnitude of the tragedy. More likely what we have here, what we are listening to, is an author's primal scream.

He's fed up with the proliferation of guns, especially mass shootings; endless wars, Trump, greed, stupidity, an
Jan 29, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Dumb, overtly simplistic political dystopian fiction

Robert Jackson Bennett is a talented author, but this one really missed the mark for me. It's a spitefully thin political screed masquerading as "thoughtful" science fiction that beats you over the head with its themes (Capitalism? Bad! White people? Dumb, greedy and racist! America? Awful place!) until you've reached a dull stupor and then bashes you over the head with them some more.

Now I actually don't mind a bit of politics in my speculativ
This is one angry, vicious, violent, sarcastic satire. It's a near-future dystopian US where the hit reality TV show is Vigilance, in which a few contestants, "actives," try to kill as many people as possible in the selected venue (you opt in when you enter such areas, like the mall, sports stadium or airport; the signs at the door tell you so.) It's mass shootings evolved into entertainment & marketing. The story is mostly the PoV of the showrunner, who's all about the TMA's (Target Market Acti ...more
Feb 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
Very different from his other books, Bennett has written a frightening story about America’s love affair with guns, fear of the ‘other’ and the marketing to that fear.
Mar 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A short, propulsive, darkly satiric story of what the future might look like if it were controlled by Fox News, the NRA, and any self respecting advertising firm.
Apr 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is the scariest book I've read in a long time, mostly because elements of it feel like they're not so outlandish for the near future. For the most part it was an excellent story. However, the ending felt too heavy-handed and ridiculous. It really didn't fit the novel/novella the way it would have a short story. A little restraint could have led to a more believable ending. 3 1/2 stars. ...more
Jan 13, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Vigilance is, in short, an unstructured, janky mess that reads like satire written by a self-righteous teenage boy. I love dystopian books that provide some sort of social commentary, and the thriller-like plot of this book drew me in immediately, and I was excited to initially pick it up. However, the unbelievably crude (and in places, offensive) writing, paired with the attempts at humour that will only ever be funny to the target demographic of Family Guy, made for a hideously unsatisfying re ...more
May 14, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Trigger warning for anything and everything guns, violence, and mass murder.

The America circa 2030 that Bennett pictures is not a happy place. Take the most troubling parts of American life and shove them down the slippery slope - a lack of gun control leads to a culture where open carry is de rigueur and random gun violence is part of everyday life. Technology has evolved a and newscaster can be generated from algorithms, and live video can be manipulated to the point that you never know if wha
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Robert Jackson Bennett is a two-time award winner of the Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novel, an Edgar Award winner for Best Paperback Original, and is also the 2010 recipient of the Sydney J Bounds Award for Best Newcomer, and a Philip K Dick Award Citation of Excellence. City of Stairs was shortlisted for the Locus Award and the World Fantasy Award. City of Blades was a finalist for the 2015 Wo ...more

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“Rifles are for people who are going out to do shooting. But a man carrying a pistol—he’s worried about getting shot at.” 2 likes
“What an easy thing it is, to make Americans destroy ourselves, she thinks. You just have to make a spectacle out of it.” 1 likes
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